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England's Test series against India may not be aired in UK

Less than three weeks before the first ball is bowled, England's highly-anticipated Test match series against India is yet to find a home on UK TV.

The five-match tour, between teams ranked second and third in the world, is a marquee event in the Test calendar but as it stands no deal has been agreed with the opening game in Hyderabad starting on January 25. TalkSPORT holds the radio rights.

India remains by far the sport’s most lucrative market but deals with the Board of Control for Cricket in India have often gone to the wire, with rights distributors eager to recoup sizeable initial outlays.

When England last toured the country for a Test series, in 2021, a similar situation unfolded and ended in an eleventh-hour bid from Channel 4 as it made an unexpected re-entry into the market.

The terrestrial broadcaster’s interest last time was partially motivated by serving a captive audience eager for live sport after the coronavirus lockdowns and, with resources being poured into its Paralympics coverage this year, PlanetSport understands there is no interest in making a similar move on this occasion.

That leaves Sky Sports and TNT as possible outlets. Sky was the de facto home of all England tours between 1990 and 2017 and would be well placed to step in at short notice, while TNT made inroads into the field during in its previous incarnation as BT Sport.

With games starting at 4am and play ending before midday the slots are far from prime time but, with England making an overt attempt to raise entertainment value and profile of the Test game under the leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, it seems inconceivable that the England and Wales Cricket Board would not make some attempt to assist discussions. PA has approached the governing body for comment.

England fly to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to begin a team bonding and training camp. There will be no formal warm-up matches, with the squad transferring to India a matter of days before the first Test.

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